In what was almost certainly the tightest, best-played, most amazing Final in the 15-year history of this event, and it all came down to tiebreakers. In a game where winning scores sometimes break 200, it’s incredibly unusual to see final scores this close, with only 12 points separating 1st from 4th: 179-179-172-167. Everybody did good things, everybody’s position had flaws, and nobody knew who was winning as the final Impacts were being revealed. What a game!
Another interesting thing about this year’s event was the continued use of the app for some games. Players in heats were given a choice of whether they preferred to play using the physical, tabletop components or through the app (which they needed to both own and have a way to access). Only 5 of our 26 players in Heat 1 preferred to play tabletop so we wound up with 6 of our 8 tables using the app. App games still required players to sit around a table together, they just played the game by connecting to the Czech Games servers through the internet (typically on their phones although some brought tablets or laptops). Con Wi-Fi made everything super smooth. Heat 2 had about the same ratio, with the vast majority of players preferring to play digitally.
For the Semifinal the default was tabletop play, but if players were unanimous, they could switch to the app. Three of the four Semifinal tables elected to play digitally.
All in all, app-based games seem to be a big hit with players. Through The Ages requires a lot of bookkeeping, and having the app push all those cubes for you leads to games that are faster, more accurate, and generally seen as more fun since you get to spend all your mental energy on the interesting parts of the game. The GM has no interest in forcing anyone to play digitally who doesn’t want to, but he does intend to defend the option to use the app in ongoing conversations with the Board.
Semifinal #1 saw Allan Jiang return to the Final for the 5th time in his 5 years of attending WBC. He’s got 3 firsts and a second, so he definitely went in as the favorite.
Semifinal #2 saw Randy Buehler earn his 11th Final in the last 12 WBC’s, though he hasn’t won the event since 2012.
Semifinal #3 saw tournament regular Ben Scholl finally break through to his first Final
The final seat was claimed by newcomer Carl Chauvin. Carl wanted to play tabletop, so tabletop it would be.
Randy drew the first seat, widely considered the best starting position, and was able to build some great early infrastructure in the form of both Roman Roads and Machu Picchu (with both Irrigation and Iron). However, every other player at the table got a copy of the key Knights tech, while he couldn’t even get a Swordsman and went into Age 2 last in military without even having a tactic in play. He almost got away with it but wound up on the wrong side of an Enslave and a Border Conflict before he was able to build meaningful strength.
Carl had the most interesting start with a turn 1 Ashoka that he used very creatively. Instead of building bronze on turn 2 he drafted Knights for 2 actions (which triggered an extra rock per turn from Ashoka) and then he managed to find good reasons not to build that bronze worker on turns 3 and 4 as well, even corrupting once before he went to the standard 3 bronze worker set-up. After throwing off a bunch of resources, Ashoka gave way to Zizka and Zizka staked Carl to the early culture lead. For a while, he had 3 tactics and a Library of Alexandria going and the memory of all that early culture persisted all the way to the end of the game. Carl went into impacts up 19 on Ben and up 29 on Randy and AJ.
AJ struggled to get his game going from the 4th seat. He was forced to go all-in on a Heavy Cavalry tactic, firing some workers in an effort to get off some aggressions. He did successfully resolve the one Enslave against Randy, but the only thing his position really had going on was the fact that it was piloted by AJ. No one was writing him off no matter how much he insisted he wasn’t winning it this year.
Randy found the strength he needed to go with his infrastructure during Age 2, but he never found a good culture plan. In Age 3 he poured all that infrastructure into Computers and crossed his fingers, hoping Sid Meier would come out soon and win the game for him. Well, it turned out that Sid was quite near the bottom of the deck and Randy only wound up with 2 turns of Sid’s culture. He had 3 workers in Computers by then, so it was 9 victory points twice, but would it be enough?
Carl led 125-106-96-96 going into impacts but he had been forced to tear down a lot of his board in order to move everyone into military and try to defend his early culture lead. The game had been a nonstop arms race ever since the end of Age 1. No one really fell behind for long (thus no one even attempted to declare a war) and by the end of the game the arms race had all four players with strengths between 70 and 85! For context, the tracker on the board only goes up to 50!! It’s not unusual for someone to start circling the track a second time, but it is quite unusual for all four players to do it, especially to this extent.
Impact of Science was great news for Randy and his computers, but Industry was bad news as he had torn down all but one of his iron workers. Impact of Balance was bad news for Carl as he scored zero. Harmony was kind of medium for everyone, and Happiness was bad news for Ben. Impact of Government was medium for most, as was Harmony. Once the dust finally settled the final scores sat at Randy – 179, Carl – 179, Ben – 172, and AJ – 167
According to the rulebook, first place wins ties. However, the GM (in consultation with many players over the years) believes the last player is disadvantaged in Through The Ages and so uses a custom tiebreaker. It’s never mattered before, but past Randy (the GM) cost current Randy (the player) a shield by declaring that the tiebreaker would actually be *inverse* seating order. Stupid past-Randy. (Not really.)
Congratulations to Carl Chauvin on winning the best game of Through The Ages I’ve ever been a part of!
|Studying their positions.
|David Platnick in Heat.
|Finalists including GM Randy Buehler.
| Randy Buehler [11th Year]